MILFORD, TEXAS. Milford is an incorporated rural community on U.S. Highway 77 and Interstate 35e twenty miles south of Waxahachie in southern Ellis County. In the early 1850s several men from Cherokee County came to the Mill Creek valley and bought land from Ellis County landowner Arvin Wright at fifty cents an acre. The new landowners arrived with their families in 1853. In 1854 Wright, William R. Hudson, and J. M. Higgins laid out town lots atop a ridge just south of the creek, and Hudson named the new community Milford, after a factory town near Boston he had read about. In 1853 the first house, Hudson's combined residence and general store, was built; Hudson was also the first postmaster when a post office was granted the next year. A two-story stone schoolhouse built in 1853 also served as a church and community hall until it was burned during the Civil War. A gristmill began operation at the community in 1857. Milford incorporated in 1888, and W. R. McDaniel was the first mayor. Two years later the tracks of the Dallas and Waco Railway reached the community of 150 and established Milford as an important shipping point for area cotton farmers.
By 1892 Milford had a population of 800, three churches, a weekly newspaper (the Courier), a bank, a hotel, two cotton gins, some two dozen other businesses, and two schools-Mollie Poe's private Lone Star Institute and the community-financed Milford Academy. In 1902 the Presbyterian Synod of Texas accepted the town's offer to open the Texas Presbyterian College for women in Milford. For the next twenty years the town flourished. By 1926 the rail line of the Dallas-Waco electric interurban had reached the city, and three years later the population soared to 1,200. Milford began a slow decline during the Great Depression. The Presbyterian college closed in 1929 because of lagging enrollment, and by 1931 the population of Milford was 747. The population continued to decline over the next several decades and reached a low of 490 in 1968, when the town reported thirty businesses. In 1990 Milford had a population of 711. The population dropped to 685 in 2000.